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5 Ways to Simplify Your Online Business

Follow these steps to improve your results and reduce your stress.

Being in business isn’t easy, but it doesn’t always need to be quite so difficult either.

As a business owner, you are rightly entrenched in the details of products, services and the methods that keep the customers coming, and the revenue growing.

Even so, it’s useful—necessary, in fact—to simplify your business. That is, to regularly review your business processes to ensure needless effort isn’t draining away higher levels of efficiency and profitability.

While no business owner would willfully waste time or money, many unwittingly do so when their methods become unnecessarily complicated, cumbersome or just downright counterproductive.

If you wonder whether you’re in a situation where you’re applying more effort for fewer results, it’s a good time to take steps to simplify your business approach. To get you started, here are five tips to help take some of the waste out of your business activity, starting today.

At the start of each day, determine what is top priority for the new day, what didn’t get completed from the previous day and what sorts of obstacles might be in your way

The power of daily planning

It’s projected that for every hour of planning, a business person can save three or four hours that would be lost to unfocused effort, redundancy in steps taken and lack of proper resources to achieve a goal.

Planning, therefore, is critical to simplify your business; it gives focus and clarity to what you’re doing and why you’re doing it.

In fact, planning will typically reveal gaps in business process and effectiveness. Such gaps can lead to complex workarounds and temporary fixes that often become permanent efficiency drains.

With a regular regimen of planning—as simple as 30 minutes at the start of each day—you can determine what is top priority for the new day, what didn’t get completed from the previous day and what sorts of obstacles might be in your way.

As a business owner, when you have this planning discussion with yourself or your team each day, you develop a method that helps you move with a purpose. In this way, you can be sure every activity contributes to your business goals, thereby eliminating useless actions that often cause distraction, confusion and wasted effort.

The information you need (and more that you don’t)

One of the biggest burdens when you aim to simplify your business is the mountain of information that commands time every day. From email, snail mail, news, magazines and so forth, the amount of incoming information is so great that it can cost you—and your business—dearly in lost time and lost revenue.

Get in front of your incoming information and keep only what you truly need by setting limits for each.

  • Email: Commit to only view your incoming email three or four times throughout the day (first thing, late morning, after lunch, one hour before quitting time) and turn off any disruptive inbound notifications. Upon reading each message, take any action necessary and file or discard the message; that is, don’t just leave it in your in tray.
  • Snail mail: Set a time each day to view incoming snail mail and stick to it. If the mail arrives late and you’re not expecting anything urgent, look at it tomorrow. When reviewing mail, do so near a trash or recycling bin. If you don’t need it, dump it immediately.
  • News: Set a reasonable time limit to catch up on the morning’s headlines (15 minutes?) then don’t look again until day’s end. Disable any notifications that will distract you from your day’s planned activity.
  • Other material: Whether magazines, blogs, websites or whatever, set a time to view additional material and stick to it.
Resist technology that promises to be ready to expand as your business expands. Let your business grow first before you try on an enterprise-type solution

With so much information always available in one form or another, it’s become far too easy to be perpetually distracted and then overwhelmed by the sheer volume of it if you don’t deal with it (purge it) on a regular basis.

Use the best tools for the job

In the computer age, it’s easy to seek out spiffy new programs and applications that promise to simplify your business processes. Unfortunately, many such tools wind up adding needless complexity and even frustration to what could be simple tasks.

Depending upon the size of your business, an end-to-end business-management system might be overkill, bringing along high overhead in regards to technology costs and labor to maintain the system.

Look for tools that do just what you need, and little more. Resist technology that promises to be ready to expand as your business expands. Let your business grow first before you try on an enterprise-type solution. If you go too big, too fast, the tools you choose might hamper—not help—your business.

The benefit of counting your steps

When you set out to simplify your business, remember to track your literal movement in accomplishing your tasks.

In the case of packing goods to ship, can you achieve that task in one area in a smooth start-to-finish assembly line approach, or are you running back and forth, up and down and all over the place?

When doing paperwork, is everything you need available at your work station, or are you constantly getting up and down to complete a task?

With a clean and well-arranged setting, you can focus directly on the most important tasks of the day without losing time fighting clutter

Count your steps, monitor your movement and work to keep the activity in one place (or as few as possible) to establish a simplified flow.

Commit to a regular maintenance plan

While it’s something of a paradox, maintaining simplicity in your business is no simple task; it takes time, dedication and commitment.

The good news is that it doesn’t take too much time, nor does it need to be an overwhelming effort provided you keep it up.

When you commit to just a few minutes of each day (during your daily planning time, perhaps), you can keep on top of clutter and deal with any unfinished tasks. Every day, take the time to keep your work area clean, organized and comfortable, and you’ll increase your efficiency.

With a clean and well-arranged setting, you can focus directly on the most important tasks of the day without losing time fighting clutter or trying to find important items—or overlooking others that require immediate attention if only you could find them.

And, as you take steps to simplify your business, take notes on a daily basis of the approach that works best for you. This will be the foundation of your maintenance plan for the next year, allowing you to plan daily, monthly and yearly to keep your business running at higher levels of simplification and lower levels of stress.

About the author

Dennis L. Prince
Dennis L. Prince has been analyzing and advocating the e-commerce sector since 1996. He has published more than 12 books on the subject, including How to Sell Anything on eBay...and Make a Fortune, second edition (McGraw-Hill, 2006) and How to Make Money with MySpace (McGraw-Hill, 2008). His insight is actively sought within online, magazine, television and radio venues. Opinions expressed here may not be shared by The Online Seller and/or its principals.



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